Darrell Huckaby - 08/12/09

Time. It's been the object of a lot of discussion and the subject of a lot of memorable quotes. Back before it became politically incorrect to be a big fan of the movie "Gone With the Wind," I was a big fan of the movie, "Gone With the Wind." There was a sign on the fence - I believe it was at Twelve Oaks, but I guess it could have been Tara - that bore a quote from Benjamin Franklin's "Poor Richard's Almanac."

"Do not squander time; that is the stuff life is made of."

We've all heard the old adage, "Time waits for no man," and, indeed, it does not. We've also heard that "Time marches on," and, indeed, time does.

But my favorite quote about time is probably the most well known, the most often repeated and certainly the most accurate. "Time flies," or as they used to say down at the Roman Forum, "Tempus Fugit!"

They may or may not have had exclamation points in ancient Rome, but if they had them, they used them when they said "tempus fugit," because it absolutely does.

Case in point, my daughter, Jenna. That would be my younger daughter, Jenna. My youngest child, Jenna. My baby girl.

Not long ago she started kindergarten at Sims Elementary School. She looked so cute marching into that building for her first day of school. She had on denim shorts and a freshly washed and stiffly starched pink blouse and tennis shoes - LA Gears, they were - that would light up if she stomped her feet real hard. She wore her hair in pigtails and wouldn't hear of me going into the building with her on the first day. I was lucky she let me go to open house.

I did insist on driving her, though - she could ride the bus the other 179 school days - and in my mind's eye I can still see her with her shoulders thrown back proudly, book bag on her back, marching into Sims to begin her formal education.

Last week Jenna started her senior year at Heritage High School.

Her senior year! Did you read what I wrote? Why aren't you panicking, like I am? My younger daughter, my youngest child, my baby girl is a senior in high school! And by the time you read this eight of the 180 school days of her senior year will have passed - and another consumed by a furlough day.

Stop this merry-go-round. I want to get off. I am not ready for this. I am not ready to let go of her. I am not ready to send her to college. I am certainly not ready to live in an empty nest with her lovely mother, Lisa.

And yet, time marches on - and waits for no man; or 17-year-old girl.

Jenna's senior year is not my first rodeo, understand. I have passed this way with her older sister and with her brother. But this is so much different. I was ready for both of her siblings to spread their wings and fly away - so long as they didn't fly too far. But it just feels different when it is your youngest child.

Did I tell you how smart she is, and how talented?

She used to be a champion horsewoman, and has big blue ribbons to prove it. That same time that flies by and makes up life, also comes in limited quantities and once Jenna got to high school and became involved in a hundred other activities, there didn't seem to be enough time to devote to riding, and since horses make ultra-expensive lawn ornaments, we got out of the horse business.

But Jenna is an excellent pianist and plays at church on Sunday and performs in the jazz band at school in the winter. And she is captain of the flag line and a member of the dance team and is the best writer in the family - and that includes me - and has a really high GPA and scored about twice what I did on her SAT ...

This is a great kid, understand, but somehow she has completed 12 years of school in the blink of an eye and this time next year will be loading her belongings into my car and moving into a college dormitory.

If you have already been asked to survive that traumatic experience, can I come to your support group? If you are just starting down that path, cherish every single moment. Take a tip from Ben Franklin. Don't squander time, especially the time you have with your children. It really is the stuff life is made of.

And for the record - I intend to make the most of every moment of the next few months. I know I'll never get them back.

The late Jim Croce wrote a song in which he contemplated what he would do if he could "save time in a bottle." For a long time I didn't understand why that was such an appealing concept.

Now I do. Trust me, now I do.

Darrell Huckaby